With the warm weather approaching, it seems like I am out driving around a bit more and, with that, have noticed a great uptick in roadside trash. I am talking about specific areas that are close by or on the way to the lake shore and coves. I cannot fathom why someone would simply dump trash including household items by creeks and inlets, including those busy highway stretches like Bringle Ferry Road crossing over Second Dutch Creek and Hwy. 52 in Rowan County, or Hwy. 8 and Jersey Church Rd Bridge crossing over Swearing Creek in Davidson County.
High Rock Lake is the second largest lake in North Carolina and is fed by the Yadkin River several counties away. The river has the potential to draw in unwanted debris from cars passing by and rain run-off from homeowners’ yards and sadly, activities from everyday life.
High Rock Lake has more than 300 miles of shoreline; the lake feeds into Badin and Tillery, respectively. The High Rock dam catches most of the debris which could remain in High Rock Lake. However, if we all work together to keep our litter – fast food wrappers, grocery bags, soda cans, and more, off the roads, this debris will not end up in the lake. This litter problem is county and state-wide and is easily controllable. We can control our own bad habits. Which really bothers me as it something simple we can change.
The bottom line is this: if trash falls near the lake, it will end up in the lake.
One local agency that has a vested interest in keeping High Rock Lake clean is the Yadkin Riverkeeper.
Edgar Miller, Executive Director said, “Our biggest concern is the amount of trash being found on the roads, creeks and rivers. With all the rain that we have experienced recently, our lakes have accumulated debris that is bad for recreation, our wildlife, and the safety of boaters and others. Having a large-scale coordinated lake clean up on High Rock is important for the local community and we are happy to support those efforts,” continued Miller. April 17 – 18 is scheduled for the annul Great Yadkin Bridge Clean up with a focus on major bridges throughout the Yadkin basin.
The Yadkin Riverkeeper is a nonprofit, membership organization whose mission is to protect and enhance the Yadkin Pee Dee River basin through education, advocacy, and action. The overarching goals are to ensure clean drinking water and a healthy, safe Yadkin River for the benefit of all the basin’s nearly 3 million residents. Education and information to the membership and the general public is the utmost importance of the river to the region’s economy and environment.
For more information go to: https://www.yadkinriverkeeper.org/
Recently, Highway Cleanup Act 2021 has been introduced to the General Assembly. If passed, litter violators will be fined twice as much as under the past law. Fines will go from no less than $250 and no more than $1,000, to no less than $500 and no more than $2,000 for the first violation, and from no less than $500 and no more than $2,000, to a fine of no less than $1,000 and no more than $4,000 for subsequent violations.
“It’s extremely difficult to identify and catch violators. That’s why ‘Adopt A Highway’ programs are so important. Our Department of Transportation (DOT) workers cannot get to our many county wide roads to pick up what has been either unexpectedly lost or purposely dumped off. Davidson County has several convenience centers for county residents. It is a shame that they are not utilized properly. With our growing population, it means more trash,” said Davidson County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman, Todd Yates.
Rowan County Board of Commissioners Chairman, Greg Edds shared, “As the lake development picks up more and more, we have an increasing responsibility to make sure we keep the lake clean and healthy. The condition of our lake reflects our community. And we certainly want to promote a positive view of Rowan County.”
THE ANNUAL BIG SWEEP
Every September, volunteers from both counties that surround High Rock Lake gather at two collection sites.
This year HRLCleanSweep is scheduled for Saturday, September 18, from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Volunteers are encouraged to join the High Rock Lake Clean Sweep at one of two locations (N.C. Wildlife Rec Area Access areas); Southmont Access, Highway 8, Lexington and Dutch Second Creek, Bringle Ferry Road, Salisbury. Gloves, trash bags and plastic boat deck coverings will be distributed to volunteers free of charge thanks in part to a sponsorship from Cube Hydro Carolinas. You do not need to own property on the lake or have a boat. Volunteers without boats are encouraged to participate and will be shuttled to targeted coves for trash pick-up via pontoon boats or can work the various coves near boat launches and bridges. This will be a great way to meet neighbors, or simply those who enjoy the lake through fishing, kayaking, or just putting their toes in the water during the summer. This is a great opportunity for community service hours for students. HRLCleanSweep will validate community service hours for scouts and teenagers who are required to earn them. For more information, please go to the HRL Clean Sweep Facebook page for more information. Volunteers are encouraged to sign up in advance.
Two lake-affiliated non-profits organize the annual High Rock Lake Clean Sweep along with several community-minded volunteers that make up the steering committee. These non-profits work tirelessly on securing sponsorships and the necessary trash receptacles, as well as getting the word out to the public about the event.
One of the non-profits is the High Rock Lake Association (HRLA), which is a volunteer board of directors navigating concerns of lake residents and recreational visitors alike. The HRLA’s mission statement since 1954: “To foster and promote the welfare of High Rock Lake and the Yadkin River.” “That is why this year we will be selling HRL tee shirts and the proceeds from all sales will go to the annual HRL CleanSweep and additional initiatives that we support to continue efforts in making HRL a resource that we are proud to share,” said Lee Snow, President HRLA.
The second is the High Rock Lake River Rats, a 32-year non-profit organization that promotes environmental responsibility to High Rock Lake and has been active in caring for the lake as a clean recreational resource for all to use.
Homeowner Associations (HOAs) are a great resource to be a part of the greater good. One such HOA has organized its effort of cleaning a two mile stretch of Long Ferry Road quarterly. This grassroots activity is in its fourth year. “This is our neighborhood volunteer effort but is also social. We start off with coffee and donuts at 8 AM and work in two-man teams. We normally have up to 18 of our neighbors join and we are done in an hour. This effort keeps the entrance to our neighborhood beautiful and we feel like we are doing something positive for the community,” said Cindy Hart, a long-time resident of High Rock Lake. “And roadside clean-up is already socially distanced.”
Recently, while driving along Richfield Road on the way to the lake, I noticed about 12 people picking up trash along a four-mile stretch. I stopped to inquire who they were and how this effort came to be. The family and neighbor-friends live along this country road which is pitted with household trash and fast food discarded bags. Not only is it unsightly, but it is also a danger to wild animals picking through the debris looking for an easy meal, and thus possible road hazards for passing vehicles. This group has taken this chore onto themselves for two reasons, to be environmentally responsible and in memory of their daughter who lost her life four years ago to spinal bifida. My best regards to this extended family and their continued efforts.
HOW CAN THE COMMUNITY HELP?
There are many scheduled activities in our communities, including Rowan County Creek Week. The third annual Creek Week is a week-long celebration of local waters throughout North Carolina. The Rowan Creek Week will take place August 21-28, 2021. In conjunction with multiple environmental organizations and local municipal departments, Creek Week offers recreational, educational, and volunteer opportunities to allow everyone to enjoy and contribute to healthy waters in our area.
From guided hikes, kayak trips, and stream clean-ups, to DIY workshops, historical presentations, and animal programs, each event is an opportunity to educate residents and to build awareness around the importance of our water resources. Stay tuned for more information or subscribe to the Creek Week Calendar to receive updates as events are added.
“This ongoing effort will improve water quality in the long run for all of us. We all live in a watershed and need to respect our environment and all outdoor activities,” said Rowan County Soil and Water Conservation, Kelli Isenhour, Education Coordinator.
Keep Davidson County Beautiful Litter Cleanup
Keep Davidson County Beautiful is an official Adopt-A-Highway program partnership with NCDOT.
At Keep Davidson County Beautiful, its mission is to inspire and educate people to take action every day to improve and beautify their community environment. We envision a county where every community is a clean, green, beautiful place to live. Through a variety of county wide programs and initiatives with our local governments and partner organizations, the goal is to engage volunteers in our effort to end littering, improve recycling, and beautify Davidson County’s communities.
“Litter is more than just a blight on our landscape. Litter is costly to clean up, impacts our quality of life and economic development, and eventually ends up in our waterways. We have instituted ‘Pop Up Clean Up’ events along several stretches of roadways. They are just one hour time commitments,” said Many Kiser, North Davidson Parks and Recreation Commission Member.
Among our many initiatives, the Keep Davidson County Beautiful Litter Index and Community Appearance Index are step-by-step methods of assessing current litter conditions and other indicators which are used in thousands of communities and by municipalities nationwide. Today, we are as committed as ever to providing people with the resources to help prevent litter with the ultimate goal of helping to end littering in Davidson County.
To report litter and illegal dumping in Davidson County, you can access the Davidson County Government website’s Citizen Request on Litter. https://www.co.davidson.nc.us/698/Citizen-Request-on-Litter
If you have an interest in forming a volunteer group in your community to partner with Keep Davidson County Beautiful, please email us at, firstname.lastname@example.org
“We are looking to build up our volunteer base,” continued Kiser. Our social media campaign and Facebook page @keepdavidsoncountybeautiful has been amazing with getting the word out, especially with the Pop Up Clean Ups.”
With many ongoing community efforts, a solution to our litter problem is in progress and we can use your help. Reach out to one of these many listed organizations to learn how you can help.
I hope you enjoy the lake and be safe out there.
I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2021. Please email me at highrock@YourRowan.com
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